In the 1984 movie Red Dawn Communist forces invaded the United States.

When asked "who is on our side?" an Air Force Colonel replied

600 million screaming Chinamen

Weren't the Chinese already Communists at this point? I'm aware that China, like Russia, found themselves in an unlikely alliance with the US during WWII due to their pre-existing war with Japan, however it's unclear to me why the largest Communist nation and ally of Russia would side with the United States and Britain instead of Russia, Cuba, and Nicaragua in Communism v. Democracy WWIII scenario?

  • 1
    The dialogue of the scene in question points out that half of China has been wiped out. "Last I heard there were a billion chinamen..." Its not mentioned if they were taken out fighting, but my impression had always been that they joined the fight with the US because half their population had been taken out in the initial attack. That could very well be wrong. – sanpaco Oct 18 '16 at 2:33
  • @sanpaco I fully agree on that interpretation, but I think it still begs the question of why they weren't allied with the other Communist states from the beginning (or stated differently, why they were attacked by their allies). Typically Communist countries don't attack each other like that, especially when the war is supposed to be specifically about Communism vs. Democracy. – Hack-R Oct 18 '16 at 2:57
  • I agree although I don't think there is an answer to be had anywhere. For what its worth, I've read other fictional world war scenarios in other novels where China was viewed as a threat from other communist countries and taken out. I also don't think that just because countries share Communism precludes them being allies in war. There are all kinds of political, strategical, and cultural reasons in play as well. China had some pretty sweet trade going on with the US in the 1980s (still does today) which could serve as a basis for them to not want to take out the US. – sanpaco Oct 18 '16 at 3:04

After some history reading I actually have an answer for this. And I'm going to let Wikipedia do most of the talking.

US and China were allies in 1984

The Shanghai Communiqué

The Joint Communiqué of the United States of America and the People's Republic of China, also known as the Shanghai Communiqué (1972), was an important diplomatic document issued by the United States of America and the People's Republic of China on February 28, 1972 during President Richard Nixon's visit to China. The document pledged that it was in the interest of all nations for the United States and China to work towards the normalization of their relations, although this would not occur until the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations seven years later.

The US and China also agreed that neither they nor any other power should "seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region". This was of particular importance to China, who shared a militarized border with the Soviet Union.

The communiqué included wishes to expand the economic and cultural contacts between the two nations, although no concrete steps were mentioned.

The "normalization" referred to actually didn't start to occur until 1979, and by 1984 (which is when the film is set) it was in full effect and the US and China were allies.

Russia and China were not allies in 1984

You base your question on the idea that because Russia and China are both Communist countries, that means they are allies. This is far from the truth.

There has actually been strong animosity between the two countries over the leadership of world communism. This is known as the Sino-Soviet Split

The Sino-Soviet split (1960–89) was the deterioration of political and ideological relations between the neighboring states of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during the Cold War. In the 1960s, China and the Soviet Union were the two largest communist states in the world. The doctrinal divergence derived from Chinese and Soviet national interests, and from the régimes' different interpretations of Marxism–Leninism.

In the 1950s and the 1960s, ideological debate between the communist parties of the USSR and China also concerned the possibility of peaceful coexistence with the capitalist West. Yet, to the Chinese public, Mao Zedong proposed a belligerent attitude towards capitalist countries, an initial rejection of peaceful coexistence, which he perceived as Marxist revisionism from the Soviet Union.

Furthermore, since 1956 (when Nikita Khrushchev denounced the legacy of Stalin), China and the USSR had progressively diverged about Marxist ideology, and, by 1961, when the doctrinal differences proved intractable, the Communist Party of China formally denounced the Soviet variety of communism as a product of "Revisionist Traitors".

The split concerned the leadership of world communism. The USSR had a network of communist parties it supported; China now created its own rival network to battle it out for local control of the left in numerous countries. Lorenz M. Lüthi argues:

"The Sino-Soviet split was one of the key events of the Cold War, equal in importance to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Second Vietnam War, and Sino-American rapprochement. The split helped to determine the framework of the Second Cold War in general, and influenced the course of the Second Vietnam War in particular."

The divide fractured the international communist movement at the time and opened the way for the warming of relations between the United States and China under Richard Nixon and Mao in 1971. Relations between China and the Soviet Union remained tense until the visit of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to Beijing in 1989.

  • Thanks; great answer. Upvoted and accepted. I would suggest to change "communistic" to "Communist" as it's referring to the official name of their type of government at the time rather than a subjective characteristic. I applaud your research. I checked on it a bit and it seems that while they were allies, during 1982 - 1984 Russia experimented with reforms though Sino-Soviet relations took place semi-annually until Gorbachev restored full-strength relations in 1985. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_split This movie was when relations were weakened, though they were restored after. – Hack-R Oct 18 '16 at 10:34

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